The month of December recognizes older driver safety and the importance of helping older adults stay active and safe in their communities. For many older adults, maintaining the ability to drive is essential to staying independent and active. Driving can be necessary for many people to get to medical appointments, go to the grocery store, see family and friends and attend social gatherings. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that one out of 6 drivers in the United States are among the ages of 65 and older. As our population continues to age and the number of older adults increases, this is important for us to recognize as healthcare providers. However, transportation can be a barrier to many people as they age, and their health symptoms increase. Some health conditions as well as certain medications can impact one’s ability to drive. Physical health problems such as problems with vision and hearing, heart conditions, dementia, slowed motor reflexes as well as emotional and mental problems can impact one’s driving and can increase car crashes. Therefore, knowing how to stay safe while driving is important for every aging adult. Here are some basic safety tips for older drivers:
- Consult with your healthcare provider about your driving abilities or those of your loved ones.
- Keep up with routine healthcare checks to ensure driving safety.
- Plan your driving route ahead of time.
- Drive during times of the day where there is less traffic.
- Avoid driving at night.
- Check the weather and don’t drive during harsh weather conditions.
- Don’t drive when you are tired.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a ride or take another form of transportation if you have any concerns about your driving.